Connie Britton has made a career out of portraying strong, smart, three-dimensional women on screen. From her work on Spin City, to the fan favorite Friday Night Lights, to, most recently, the hit show Nashville, the actor has proven herself to be a force to be reckoned with not just on television, but in Hollywood as well. Britton has voiced her desire to see more complex women depicted on film frequently, and looking at the success of Wonder Woman and the continued push for films like the star's new one, Beatriz at Dinner, that feature prominent female characters, one might get the impression that we're moving forward when it comes to representing women on screen. However, Britton tells me, when we chat recently in New York, that she's not entirely optimistic.
"I have been devastated by a lot of what's been happening in terms of the country's perspective on women and sort of what we're seeing reflected back to us," the star says. She clarifies that it's not just in politics, but it's clear the actor is not immune to the effects of a particularly trying election and new presidency. "The fact that the country elected a known... you know... we've all seen him demonstrate his own misogyny," she says. "And the fact that that was OK for us to elect that into the most powerful office in the world, that's devastating to me."
What gives her hope, however, is seeing all the women fighting back. "There are so many women who are realizing that their voice is imperative for the sake of their own power. And that's a great thing," Britton says. The star herself is adding her voice to the chorus of female activists; when we meet, she's wearing a Planned Parenthood pin. "I really strongly believe in women being treated as the 50 percent population equals that we are," she says when I point the pin out. "And that includes a right to choose about our own bodies. That includes a right to health care, and to live our lives in fully empowered ways when we are making decisions about our health and our lives."
Given her support of Planned Parenthood, it's not surprising that Britton has stated her desire to play another advocate for women's health: Wendy Davis. "To see a woman, and a woman in Texas, be that bold and that courageous, and driven by values — that's a woman I want to know, that's a woman I want to play, that's a woman I want to reflect out into the world because she's a great role model," the actor says. "And, you know, she's a complicated, real, vulnerable human, and I love that."
While no Davis-centric project has been announced, Britton does have another intriguing role coming up in Professor Marston & the Wonder Women. Her role in the film, which tells the story of Dr. William Marston, one of the creators of Wonder Woman, is being kept under wraps, but the actor promises that her character, in keeping with her impressive resumé, is another confident and complex woman. "I am actually the woman who is confronting the man on whether he is worthy to write this comic," Britton teases. "It's such a fascinating role and a really, really interesting story."
Like Beatriz at Dinner, which focuses on racial and class inequalities, particularly among women, Britton hopes that Marston will encourage audiences to examine their own beliefs on female empowerment. "These films allow all of us to look at ourselves and to maybe ask ourselves questions. That's the power," she says.
In many ways, one can't help but think that Britton's roles are continuing the legacy established by Friday Night Light's Tami Taylor, perhaps her most beloved role ever. The actor tells me that she wants women to be empowered by that character's journey. "I would want women to learn that they can find their power in all kinds of ways. You don't have to be Wonder Woman to feel like you're living in your own power," she says. "[Tami] was able to access something that felt really true in her own voice, and she stood strong in that. And we can all do it, and it can happen in the biggest ways and in the littlest ways."
From now on, when life gets you down, or you feel powerless, just remember one thing: WWCBD — What would Connie Britton do?